Rug up for hot times
  |  First Published: July 2012

This month locals stagger around in fleeces, beanies, gloves and ugh boots each morning, congratulating each other that we’re not in Armidale, Goulburn or Cooma. Later in the day, we’ll be on the beach in T-shirts, wondering how those other poor people are coping with the cold.

Regardless of where you’re from, you do need to rug up here this month. Quite often there’s snow on the ground only 200km upwind, around Guyra, which is higher above sea level than Jindabyne, believe it or not.

Whether you fish the reefs, the rivers or the beaches, you’ll get best results this month at dawn, dusk or at night and your efforts for rugging up should be truly rewarding

Snapper will be over the shallow reefs this month, foraging and gathering in preparation for spawning. The best results in close on bait and soft plastics will be before the sun comes up or just after it’s gone down.

The rest of the day you’ll have to head for deeper water but you shouldn’t have to go out too far.

Tailor will also be most active in the darker hours, with most foamy washes adjacent to deeper water worth a look. There have been some indications of quality greenbacks about the place so it should be worthwhile soaking a strip of bonito on two hooks wired about 10cm apart after dark, when you’ll need to rug up.

Alternatively, follow the bait schools and you shouldn’t be too far from success.


The salmon will more than likely move in some time this month as the water cools down.

It remains to be seen just how many turn up this year, given the reopening of commercial netting north of Barrenjoey, but we’ll certainly see some and maybe we’ll see plenty. Studies show the larger, more mature fish travel a little farther north every year, in line with their human counterparts from southern climes.

And it seems there’s going to be a bit of a welcoming committee for the salmon this year – I’ve already had a couple of inquiries from north of the border as to whether they’ve turned up yet. These fishos love catching big, strong fish from the surf and the salmon certainly are relatively easy to catch in comparison to big tailor or mulloway, the other local beach fish that fit this description.

Big tailor are a hit-or-miss proposition most days – you stand the best chances with bait after dark, some likelihood on lures or bait at dawn and dusk, and Buckley’s in the middle of the day. Salmon can bite at any time, however.

If mulloway were managed properly, or managed at all, they’d be far more common in the surf over Winter and a far better ‘take-home’ fish than salmon.

I just hope that this season we don’t see salmon carcasses dumped and rotting on the beaches, as there were last year.

Apart from leaving the beach a stinking mess, this stupidity helps to portray all anglers to the non-fishing public as uncouth, selfish grubs with low intelligence and no social or environmental responsibility – thanks, guys. With the anti-fishing lobby already conducting such a slick campaign, that’s all they need to gain the high moral ground.


Commercial pipi harvesting is on the cards again, with the stretch between Patchs Beach and the coffee rock at the northern end of Broadwater Beach reopened on June 1. If you see any pro diggers anywhere else, they’re breaking the law – not that they’re likely to find many pipis.

Many interstate visitors might not be aware of the NSW law on pipis, either. The limit is a very generous 50 for bait only and they’re not to be taken more than 50m away from the high tide mark – meaning you mustn’t carry them back home to eat. Apart from the possibility of biotoxin issues, you’ll need exceptionally good luck to scratch up enough even for a small feed…

The beach bream should be available throughout the day, meaning a pleasant outing unless the beach netters are active. To prove some obscure point, there’s a crew that often nets the hell out of the Airforce Beach bream before the Evans Head Classic crowd turns up in mid-July.

There should also be plenty of bream in the rivers, with the peak period in the Richmond likely this month. With regular top-ups of discoloured water, the fish haven’t had the chance to head far up the river lately, anyway.

Any bream that have headed upstream will be rubbing shoulders with spawning estuary perch and, further up, bass. School flathead will also be encountered in deeper water up-river, despite the dirty and fresh top layer.

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